Dear Past Me,
The one sitting by an incubator in the NICU. I see you- I am you. Today was hard. A doctor with a brash attitude blindsided you in a room full of people. She told you to pull the plug- to abandon hope because even if your sick child does manage to pull through- the burden will be too great. Her words- not yours, not mine.
Right now, your world is caving in on itself. You’re faced daily with decisions that absolutely no parent should ever have to make. Currently, you contemplate which child you’re failing more: the healthy one that’s been living with his grandparents for three months or the dying one you can do nothing for. You wonder who needs your time most. Presently, I still can’t answer that question for you. I can’t tell you which decision is best, but I do know that spending time with either child is never time wasted. Wasted time is all the time you spend stressing over insignificant details. The things you either can’t change or have no desire to do so. If family wants to fight amongst themselves- let them. Maybe they’ll start an all-out brawl in the waiting room next week. It’s not your problem. The only things that matters are those babies. Your babies.
I can’t promise you that things get easier from here, because they don’t. They get harder-much harder. When you think that life has thrown absolutely everything that she can throw at you, she digs a little deeper and buries you further. Don’t give up.
No, you can’t save this one. That doctor, she was harsh and today shouldn’t have happened- not like it did. Not completely without warning. Underneath her harsh bravado was a gift- a gift of truth. That it’s Okay. Today might not be that day but when the day comes its okay to let our little one go. That maybe that’s the motherly decision. Maybe being a good mother means doing what is needed rather than what is wanted. When the time comes you will know.
I wish I could tell you that this is the one and only time you’ll sit in a hospital room and fear for your child’s life but it’s not. You’ll do something very similar again and you’ll wonder why. You’ll wonder why you were so stupid to force your family to relive the same horrors. You’ll wonder why they told you it could never happen again when it clearly does. You’ll wonder what you did to deserve this. The truth is you did nothing, nothing to bring this upon yourself. People will question what went wrong, what did you do that made these pregnancies different from the first? Doctors will pass the blame from one another, pass it to you. Don’t you dare pick it up and leave that guilt where it lands too. It doesn’t belong to you.
Instead of three living children to drive you nuts you have one beautiful, healthy child and two urns. It’s not fair and I won’t tell you it is. I won’t tell you things get easier or time heals all. I will tell you that as much regret as you have now, it’s not a part of your future. You will learn to accept your decisions. You will learn that through all your pain you have had a good life.
Lesley is an amateur author trying to find her voice. She lives in a small town in West Virginia with her husband, son and two cats.